Gosport MP, Dame Caroline Dinenage, has welcomed the launch of the Government consultation on the application of Council Tax to Homes of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) which has been launched in response to her amendment to the Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill.
HMOs are shared living properties, where multiple renters live, often renting a single bedroom each with shared communal facilities. Increasingly, the Valuation Office Agency have been designating individual bedrooms as a single dwelling, making them susceptible for a full Council Tax bill.
The Consultation was announced after Caroline tabled New Clause 7, an amendment to the Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill, to prevent the practice of designating individual bedrooms as separate dwellings.
Speaking in the debate on November 24 2022, Caroline said:
“There is a huge financial strain on people, often young professionals, at the very start of their careers, suddenly landed with a Council Tax bill of up to £1000, even once they’ve allocated the single person discount.”
“Shared housing is a core pillar of the housing sector. In 2018, HMOs provided 3 million sharers with rental accommodation across England and Wales. So, this has the potential to become a major problem.
“Council Tax is a property tax, it is not a head tax, and it should not be down to individuals who are simply paying for a bedroom to foot this bill.”
The Minister, Dehenna Davison, announced the consultation in response to Caroline’s amendment, saying:
“I am very grateful that we were able to reach a good position on this, and I look forward to working with her and her constituent Mr Brewer on the consultation and beyond to ensure we get this right.”
Caroline has been working alongside local businessman Daryn Brewer, who is converting numerous empty shops on Gosport High Street into high quality shared living spaces, with independent shops occupying the lower floor and high-spec HMOs on the upper floors, with shared kitchen, laundry and workspaces.
Caroline has been campaigning on this issue alongside Portsmouth North MP, Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, for two years. They have attended numerous meetings with Ministers.
The accelerated consultation is running for 6 weeks, until 31 March, and seeks views on Council Tax valuation in HMOs.
Caroline is encouraging her constituents, and anyone who is affected, to respond to the consultation before 31 March.
Dame Caroline said:
“The current uncertainty means Council Tax can be applied to individual tenants of an HMO. This affects many people who often cannot afford to be hit with such a large bill, like first time renters and those starting out in their careers.
“Council Tax is a property tax, not a head tax. It is important that the law reflects this.
“This consultation was proposed following my amendment to the Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill. The consultation concludes on 31 March, before the Bill is due to receive Royal Assent. This means that participants of the consultation have a real chance to shape changes to the Bill before it becomes law.
“I encourage anyone who is affected or has an interest in the application of Council Tax to HMOs to submit a response to the consultation before the deadline of 31 March.”